The first thing people ask after they find out you just got married is this: “How do you feel?”
There are some variations: “Does it feel any different?”
My answer to this last question is always no. Because it doesn’t. That’s how I know this was an excellent decision. Our lives look pretty much exactly the same, just now with one bank account and ring finger bling. Maybe I’m a little more gassy. Maybe?
I shudder to think what this must have been like for couples generations before me, people who didn’t really get to know the other person until after you’d signed in blood on the dotted line and found a collection of jarred and pickled cat hair he’s hidden on his side of the closet.
No, being married has been a breeze (appended just briefly by that marital gas).
What I’ve been unraveling are some axiomatic truths that have only—and could have only—presented themselves after the wedding; could have only presented themselves because of it.
They are neither negative nor positive, just new ways of seeing things I’ve been looking at for some time.
But they’re noteworthy because they are, indeed, new. Doesn’t that always happen when you complete a chapter and dig in to the new one? I guess I do feel different.
I’m a professional with adult expectations. Sigh.
I was really disappointed by several of my wedding vendors. From the bouquet of wild flowers being outrageously overpriced (no way something comprised mostly of Queen Anne’s Lace should cost over $100) to my out-of-touch reception venue continuously losing my paperwork and messing more than a few things up day-of (they had no email or electronic database even though, yes, you’re correct, it’s 2017).
I was angry about these things, the venue in particular, for a few weeks after the wedding.
Oh no… Was I a bridezilla?
After some consideration, I decided no. I’m not a bridezilla. I just have high expectations for the people and companies I hire. I’m sure that sounds like it should be obvious—I’m exchanging my money for their services, after all—but I’ve long prided myself in having a crust-punk, eat-the-rich heart.
The funny thing about money is the less you have of it, the more you think about it. The more you have of it, the less often it consumes your thoughts.
A hallmark of people who grew up with little $$$$, I never really learned how to spend smartly on high-end things. I only know how to buy a deal, and I can hunt down anything you want, used and for a quarter. My only mantra my whole life has been if you can get money, save it.
I scoffed at paying for quality, assuming anything expensive is consumerist culture trying to get one over on you, man.
Sometimes. But sometimes nah.
I’ve spent the last five years working on teams with project managers, people dedicated to making sure that things go smoothly, that budgets and schedules line up, and that everything is buttoned up—always.
Shit together. Tied with a bow. Golden shovel included to scoop it out.
I expected that from the businesses I hired for the wedding and didn’t always get it in return. I won’t ever hire someone I don’t trust again, and I won’t ever make a quick hiring decision based on inexperience and fear.
“It’s worth the money” is advice I’ll take more seriously as a wifey. (Read: Shoulda woulda coulda hired a wedding planner.)
At the very least, I expect a business to know how to use Google Spreadsheets or how to email me if they’re trying to keep track of a lot of information for a lot of different people, of whom I am one.
I’m officially a grown-up person with money and professional expectations.
I have plans for retirement.
I have a favorite rolling reusable grocery bag.
Time to burn my wannabe-punk card?
Living in a digital world has affected me more than I ever realized.
Let me tie this back to my work experience for a sec.
Justin always jokes that there’s “a greasy one” in each relationship one ever encounters. To this I raise my hand. My greasy, sticky hand with drying peanut butter smudges and olive oil soaked fingerprints.
I’m gross at life.
But at work?
My worst traits work to my advantage at work. My obsessiveness, my loyalty, my ability to get mentally deep into a project and not come up for air until it’s done and I’m starving and it’s the absolute best I can make it be. (I think, actually, this is what contributes to my messiness at home. I’m greasy because I’m completing mundane everyday tasks like, you know, eating, while my head is somewhere else.)
I’m used to most things at work—meaning things I can relatively control—being as close to perfect as possible. Polished. Always. Possible to influence.
So when life throws my careful planning a few downward facing curveballs, I’m stressed.
This all gets compounded by having the ability to select what I say, do and share online. Editing my life. Combined with the perfectly PhotoShopped, filtered or photo studio-set standard of imagery we’ve all grown accustomed to (whoa, especially with wedding inspo, right?), digital visual culture has deeply affected how I see my own reality and my high expectations to be able to control it.
I really didn’t think I was like that. But as I found myself focusing more on my disappointments than the incredible moments we did have with friends and family, not to mention the commitment we made, I was forced to face how much I need to be in control of things I am in charge of.
How can I live in the real, messy, greasy unpredictable world a little more often? And not be so nervous or judgmental when it’s ugly?
My relationship to some other things I love changed a long time ago.
And I didn’t notice.
This is one I’m still hashing out and don’t have a nicely wrapped conclusion about, so hold the tape and bow for now and buckle up for something cryptic.
Weddings are events where your whole life flashes before your eyes. Because life is about our people, our relationships. From great aunts to great friends to great colleagues, the spectrum of time you’ve spent on earth and the people you’ve spent it with is laid out before you and they’re all eating red velvet cake.
That’s fun, but also kind of overwhelming.
Before seeing all that in person, you have compartmentalized where those relational memories go in the landscape that you see when you close your eyes and tick through the years. Seeing all that in person, you realize many of these relationships have fractured off, like Pangea cracking open into continents.
It makes you realize time is moving faster than global temps, girlfriend.
I’m on my own rock now, and I have been for a while. The distance between me and the rest of my life is suddenly palpable. I must make more of an effort to travel off my island, while balancing that with an acceptance of and respectfulness for the fact that this is where I’m at–and I put down my anchor where it is for a reason.
Being married means more to me than I thought it would.
Long had I dismissed the idea of ever getting married. Too much weird fanfare. I thought it would make me uncomfortable. (It did.)
There were a million more interesting things for me to think about or wish for or imagine.
Marriage is just a piece of paper. Technically.
Marriage is sexist. Mostly.
Marriage is dumb. If you really think about it.
One Halloween in college I dressed up as The Runaway Bride.
I still believed all this on my wedding day. That’s why we kept it so simple and small. That’s why we tried to make it so low maintenance for everyone involved. “Don’t feel bad if you’re not invited. Seriously. We wish we didn’t have to go either, haha!”
It wasn’t that big of a deal to us.
Only afterward—as we stay up past midnight talking about ideas or snort laugh through a day while surprise-attacking each other with fake karate chops—have I begun to more fully understand why we did this.
I didn’t enjoy the act of getting married. But I love being married.
You really do experience a relationship differently when it’s been promised to you. When you know you are safe.
It makes me eager to give that feeling right back. So each day my desire to protect a marriage, my marriage, grows.
Huh. Who’da thought?